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Job seekers need better writing skills

I saw something recently about the economy and how employers are complaining about a lack of qualified candidates — namely in written and verbal communication skills.

I can’t say I’m surprised.

The blame for job-seekers who couldn’t communicate well — let alone write a coherent sentence — was sprayed every direction possible.

All the usual suspects got blasted: public education, social media and rap music.

I know from going through standardized test scores, most of the schools in North-Central Washington fell short of their statewide counterparts.

But more often than not, it was in the math and science realm where area schools didn’t make the grade.

Generally, schools in Okanogan and Ferry counties were at or above the state average in reading and writing scores.

Other scapegoats included technology and video games, television, college curriculum, a heavy focus globally on math and science, a lazy generation and increasingly poor health habits. It seemed there was no shortage of reasons or excuses for our nation’s deplorable poor writing habits.

I’m not particularly concerned about the exact root of this evil.

What does concern me is the possibility — or even the likelihood — that people simply don’t care.

Proper grammar, correct punctuation, even basic spelling are all thrown out the window. And it’s not for lack of writing. I would venture to guess the average person today does far more writing than even the most prolific wordsmiths of decades past. Facebook, Twitter, text messaging and email are all forms of written communication that people send out in mind-blowing quantities.

Each day on Facebook, more than 55 million status updates are made.

Twitter users fire off an astounding 400 million Tweets per day worldwide — a number that has basically doubled in the past two years.

Let’s face it: Proper use of an apostrophe just isn’t that sexy.

As an English major, I find myself subconsciously making corrections anytime I see a misused word or a badly run-on sentence. However, reading about employers that were struggling to find qualified candidates from a communications standpoint made me look at these rampant mistakes from a different angle.

It’s not just about being nit-picky.

Low standards in writing could be eventually be a career backbreaker.

Maybe if that becomes more widely publicized, people will reverse the “who cares” trend toward writing.

Garrett Rudolph is the managing editor of The Chronicle. He can be reached at 509-826-1110 or via email at grudolph@omakchronicle.com.

Comments

Bcart05 10 months ago

You should use more caution in your own writing when you target others with accusations about their writing skills. Let us look at some of the supposed but unverified facts you provided your audience. First of all you claim to be an English Major. Moreover, you list your job title as the "managing editor of The Chronicle." With these heftily stated credentials you somehow feel empowered enough to make fallaciously supported claims and pass them off as verified truths. Where are your references? You either claim to have done past research or you provide numbers that your audience is just suppose to believe are true. As an English Major you should know better. Might your very job and published newspaper writings be part of the problem leading people to develop poor writing skills?

In this case you are the managing editor over a newspaper company and you are writing an article complaining about other people's writing skills. Leading off these titles given to yourself, you do not provide references to your supporting arguments, and you even make a very basic writing flaw similar to the ones you are complaining about. This occurs when you state, "Low standards in writing could be eventually be a career back breaker." If you erase the first "be" that would make your sentence proper. The reason that I point this particular flaw out is because it shows you are not doing your job. This is a common mistake that will not be caught by a spellchecking program. However, this will usually be caught by a paper editor that reads over the work to search for errors, especially when that is what they are paid and trained to do. Thus, there exists a probable possibility that you are letting spellcheck do your editing job for you. On top of that you are failing to teach your audience proper referencing techniques. Maybe next time you shouldn't set the bar so high when targeting other's writing, because that target encompasses you as well.

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